A Student’s Reflection on Stockton’s BLM and Juneteenth March
In the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd and other acts of police brutality, nationwide protests demanding reform and defunding of police picked up traction. Showing support and solidarity for the movement, and arranged through the collaboration of social justice clubs on campus such as NAACP and African Students Society, Stockton University held a march on June 19, 2020. I myself was a participant and eager to show my support for the movement, having attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Galloway on June 6 as well. Brandishing my mask, water bottle, a small bag, and my sign “Kraken Down on Social Injustice” with the sea monster drawn on it, I was ready to rock and roll.
The turnout of over 400 protestors was huge, with all participants donning masks and maintaining social distance Those in attendance included Stockton students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the general public. I was delighted to see many familiar faces and know that so many friends of mine were supporting this cause. Prior to the commencement of the march, several Stockton staff and faculty spoke on the matter. President Kesselman himself was there and gave a speech. “The truth is, my words could never convey or measure up to the truths experienced in Black communities. Truths that I’ve never had to bear, but I damn sure need to recognize. We have failed you, and for this, I am truly sorry,” he said.
After the speeches, the march began, making eight laps around the track field, followed by eight minutes and forty-six seconds of silence to acknowledge the amount of time George Floyd was held down with a police officer’s knee on his neck until he died. Drummers led the marchers and kept their beat going the entire march, while marchers chanted and stayed motivated.
Following the moment of silence, members of social justice clubs on campus took the mic to speak out on events that had transpired. Some spoke of the agonies that can come from being a person of color, stating it can feel like being treated as a criminal your entire life for a crime you didn’t commit. Another mentioned how the day before George Floyd’s murder, a police officer right in New Jersey had killed an unarmed civilian. Other speakers brought to attention shortcomings from Stockton in regards to promoting and supporting its diverse student body and called for action to improve situations on campus, some suggestions including having safe zones on campus for students of color and reduced tuition for students that come from financially unstable households.
All around, the march paved the way for many individuals to raise their voice and make calls for improvement, while also supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Categories: Your Voice